Louis van Gaal faces selection dilemma for Manchester United

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Football News

The bomb scare at Old Trafford, that saw the stadium evacuated and the fixture between Manchester United and Bournemouth cancelled, turned out to be a false alarm thankfully, but it has raised the question, should United field their stars in the rescheduled fixture?

It was confirmed that the contest would be rearranged for Tuesday, 17 May, just four days before United aim to win their first FA Cup trophy in 12 years. 

So, will the rescheduled match help or hinder United in their preparation for, what is now, the biggest game of their season and possibly Louis van Gaal's last chance to save his job?


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Following Manchester City's 1-1 draw with Swansea City on Sunday, United now cannot qualify for the Champions League unless they somehow win the rearranged match against Bournemouth 19-0.  

In a result that took their Champions League destiny out of their own hands, Man Utd lost their last fixture 3-2 away to West Ham United on Tuesday, 10 May. United were poor on the day and if Van Gaal decides to rest his key players midweek, this will mean they won't have played competitive football for 11 days. 

This lack of game time could reflect negatively on his side's performance in the final. Continuity in sport is seen as one of the primary keys to winning and playing regular football with a regular side helps to breed on the pitch success. Tampering with team chemistry and cohesion could seriously backfire when United line-up at Wembley. 

In addition, Manchester Unite's display at West Ham was dismal, in what was probably their most pressurised fixture of the season, due to Champions League qualification implications. Is this really the tune Van Gaal would want his United band to be playing when they march into Wembley on Saturday?

Van Gaal and the United players will also want to reward their fans for their continued support throughout what has been a difficult campaign.

According to World Football, Manchester United have averaged attendance of just shy of 75,400 per game in league matches during 2015-16.

What better way to reward your fans for their loyal support than with a victory in their team's final outing at Old Trafford this season?

Supporters are unlikely to settle for anything less than a victory against Bournemouth, who are playing in Premier League for the first time ever following promotion in 2014-15. Will paying customers be happy to see a sub-par performance and the omission of the big names, or will they see the bigger picture?

On the other side of the coin lay the risks of playing your star players and sustaining injuries.

Playing competitive football carries its own burden and Van Gaal and United will be wary that picking their regular starters could result in knocks and niggles to players just days before the final.

Dutch manager Van Gaal will already be without first-team regulars Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj, all out with injuries, while Marouane Fellaini is suspended. Should his squad suffer one or two further setbacks to key players in key positions, momentum could swing to their opponents.

The final thing United management will have to consider is whether or not their players will want to be picked ahead of the FA Cup final and the impending European Championships in June.

Most of United's players will already have one eye on Crystal Palace and the chance to lift silverware at the end of the season, particularly as they now have little to play for in the league, and will be cautious of risking injury by playing on Tuesday.

Some will also have ideas of preservation ahead of representing their countries in France this summer.

It only takes an individual or two to be slightly off their game in the hyper-competitive Premier League and a should-win game turns into a defeat.

Van Gaal will need to assess whose head is in the right place and who he's prepared to risk in their penultimate game in order to achieve success in both fixtures.

Manchester United take on Crystal Palace at Wembley on Saturday, 21 May looking to end the season on a high and claim their first FA Cup victory in 12 seasons. How will they prepare for the fixture and will they come out on top on the day?

What sort of team should Louis van Gaal field against AFC Bournemouth? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
Premier League
FA Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo
David Beckham

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